Have you stepped over the BlackHat line ?

Google Webmaster Tools Manual Actions

Google Webmaster Tools Manual Actions

Have you or someone else been using BlackHat SEO tactics in your website ? Maybe you just want to be sure all is good with Google and your website, or maybe you are trying to find out why you arent getting any sales leads from your website.

Google’s online diagnostic toolset, Google WebMasters Tools (WMT) now provides a quick and easy way to find out if Google have slapped a ‘manual ban’ on your site.

The Manual Actions enquiry is under the Search Traffic Menu and provides an instant indication if Google has decided that your website is so bad they’ve put it in the naught corner.

Here’s Matt Cutts’ video on how and where Google might apply a manual ban on a site:




Page load performance is really about Time to First Byte (TTFB)

Google have inferred that page load performance has an impact on ranking i.e. a faster website gets better ranking, but what’s fast, and how is page load performance measured?

This excellent MOZ article by Mark from Zoompf details a study that provides anwers to these questions

There are some surprising results (like why high performance hosting is really important) and even more surprising non-results – its all about Time to First Byte (TTFB)

Time to First Byte has a measurable impact on ranking in this study

Time to First Byte has a measurable impact on ranking in this study

If you are interested in getting more sales leads from your website, its certainly worth a read…

Mobile searches will be more accurately reported in iOS7

If you are interested in what people searched before they arrived at your website then it has been a frustrating time recently:

Google Analytics has been masking search terms for ‘privacy reasons’ and calling the result ‘not provided’ for some time now. This results in around 30% of organic search terms hidden in Analytics – here’s a current example:

Google Analytics 'not provided' search terms - over 30% of searches

Google Analytics ‘not provided’ search terms – Typically around 30% of searches

Safari on iOS6 on your iPhone & iPad had also been masking search ‘refer’ info since Sept 2012 too. Searches from these popular mobile devices has been mis-reported in your web stats systems since then but Search Engine Land reporter Barry Swartz has been testing iOS 7 and notes that “…When iOS 7 is released to the masses, expect major shifts in your analytics to account for the proper reporting of Google search traffic from iOS devices.

Yah! At least we’ll be able to analyse critical mobile web traffic a bit more accurately… at least for a while…


Goodbye Google Keyword Tool

Sadly Google has decommissioned our old friend the Keyword Tool and replaced it with the more AdWords focused Keyword Planner.
– after all Google wants you to use the data for your AdWords campaigns !

After a quick look around the Keyword Planner offers much the same info, although it does use exact form keywords rather than the vastly inaccurate broad form and the searches over time charts look nice. There’s more details about the differences between the two here

The Keyword Tool has been around for years: I even dipped into the murky depths of old The Internet Marketer posts to try and find out when I started using it -about 2007 I think.

Before Google introduced the Keyword Tool ( in the SEO equivalent of the Jurassic Period) it cost serious money to get quality keyword data.  Back then WordStream (now with a fabulous Adwords tuning system) were the goto people for keyword research data, but unfortunately Australian-only data wasn’t available.

Time marches on and things change, but I shed a sentimental tear for the passing of the Keyword Tool.

Why good Web Hosting is critical for your business

Website hosting is the space in the internet where your website exists. Until recently website
hosting was considered a commodity service because it’s cheap and easy to provide. But things
have changed and now the $ you save on cheap hosting could cost you $$$ in sales leads.
That’s why we have introduced a Premium Web Hosting Service for our clients

Business critical

Your website is your virtual showroom.
It’s well accepted that the internet is now a key sales channel for business. When your website is
down, your virtual sales showroom is closed, so there’s no sales leads.
As many businesses have discovered; cheap web hosting can cost your business many times in
lost sales from website down time and poor performance.

Hacker Risk Reduction

Website hacking has dramatically increased and managing your site’s exposure to this online
vandalism is critical. Main-stream hosts have 100’s of websites on the same server, with no
control over site quality. This increases your site’s exposure to hackers who gain entry via a
poorly managed site on the server then compromise yours.
We tightly manage the number and quality of co-located websites, reducing your website’s
exposure to hackers.

Disaster Recovery

In the worst possible scenario we are able to restore your website from a history of backups and
if the entire server fails we can restore to another virtual server within hours – not days.

Performance matters

Slow sites = lost sales
When surfing the ‘net we tend to dismiss slow sites. They are a pain to use and we ‘bounce’ out
of them often missing better products or pricing.
Google doesn’t like slow either
Google recognises this, and now penalises poor performing websites by pushing them down
search results and out of sight of prospective clients.
Modern sites need more grunt
Modern website systems like WordPress are becoming very popular as they are easy to use and
provide a great library of functionality for your site. Unfortunately these systems can be resource hungry and will slow a web server down
particularly if that server is already heavily loaded with multiple websites.
Our servers are based on brand new, high performance, purpose built server systems. We
proactively manage the number and quality of co-located websites and monitor performance to
ensure your website enjoys a genuinely premium web hosting service.

You risk loosing rank if your website is down

There is a double whammy if your site goes down.
Not only are you loosing potential sales leads as people cant visit your site, but also you run the risk of Google de-ranking your website if it has an extended outage (ie greater than 48 hours.

Here’s what Matt Cuts from Google has to say about that:

Its not until you begin monitoring a website’s availability to you start to realise the amount of time a website is off-line, and this is one of the reasons we have introduced Premium Website Hosting Service with high availability and high performance website hosting bundled with uptime monitoring and reporting.
We even provide specialized services for WordPress sites too!




Adding AdWords conversion tracking to a WordPress site

If you are using AdWords, you may be painfully aware that its easy to spend lots of money on clicks and not get a result.
Measuring the outcomes from your click investment is key to optimising your campaign and of course reducing click costs. AdWords has a number of features that can help you track outcomes or ‘Conversions’ but these need to be implemented to be used.

Internet marketing jargon for measuring and tuning website sales outcomes is Conversion Optimisation

What is your Conversion?

The process starts with defining what a conversion is for your website… Maybe your site, like many, doesnt sell stuff online, so tracking ecommerce transactions is just not relevant to you. Consider your site’s online sales objective(s).  Is it:

  • Submitting an enquiry
  • Downloading a document or PDF
  • Registering for a newsletter

These sales objectives can be readily tracked as conversions, then used as input to your AdWords campaign for tuning and/or reporting.

Once the target conversion is known then the AdWords conversion tracking scripts will need to be configured and installed into your site.
These scripts are only installed only on one page – the page immediately after the ‘conversion’ .  This could be a bit of a daunting process with WordPress, but the Smart Google Code plugin makes this delightfully easy.

Once your conversion tracking code is installed sit back and wait for some data and conversions to percolate through the system
Add the conversion tracking fields into your AdWords displays

Sample AdWords Conversion Data

Sample AdWords Conversion Data

As we can see above, the Click Through Rate (CTR) shows 3.5%  which is typically all you would be able to determine.
With conversion tracking enabled, we can see that 391 clicks produced 57 conversions, resulting in a conversion rate of 14.6%  or $23.10 per conversion – this is much more commercially informative information.


Bing is Siri’s search engine in iPhone IOS 7

Wow this is the most interesting bit of news I’ve heard in a while…

In the new  IOS 7 update for Apple iPhone/iPad Siri uses Bing as it’s search engine.
This is a mighty slap in the face for Google, a major coup for Bing and may signal the start of a new era…

Lets put this into context:

– Currently Google ‘owns’ internet search
– Apple ‘owns’ the mobile computing space (albeit tenuously with Android devices snapping at its heels)
– Mobile internet usage has exploded (so ‘owning’ mobile search is critical for Google ongoing domination)
– Apple has chosen to align with Microsoft’s Bing for its mobile searches (from Siri)

QED: Reduced exposure in mobile = weakened domination of internet search for Google

I cant imagine Google is going to relinquish its strangle-hold on search so easily so standby for the fireworks…

The side story is that astute clients are already expressing interest in their site’s Bing ranking.



Domain ‘renewal rescue’ service | A service or a rip off?

An expired domain? Arggh!

From time to time I’m asked to assist with restoring a website where the domain has expired.
These are typically very stressful situations for the business. The domain expiry will not only stop the website from working, but more importantly stops the business emails from working – an absolutely critical business communications medium.

Given modern business communication is largely underpinned by emails this means the business can’t receive or respond to client enquiries – often they can’t even send an email to say sorry our emails are down…

Domain ‘Ownership’

Usually in these situations the domain ‘owner’ forgot to renew their domain, often not realising that the domain registration and webhosting are two different services often from different suppliers each with their own fees.

Its also worth noting that you don’t own the domain you licence it through AUDA appointed domain registrars so if you don’t renew your licence, any other eligible person can potentially seize your domain.

Domain Rescue Service

I’ve recently become aware of Domain Rescue domainrescue.com.au a WA based business that ‘drop catches’ expired domains and then contacts the ‘previous licencee’ (Registrant in domain-speak) offering to restore the domain for them.

This is a great service and would help prevent accidentally expired domains from falling into the wrong hands and I commend Domain Rescue for setting this up.

My only issue is their renewal fee of $129, when the going price number for a domain registration/renewal is around $60 and even down to $38 for 2 years for some domain registrars.  Still, it’s better than being confronted by a domain stalker demanding $1,000’s to get your domain back and/or the ensuing legal battle costs.

How much does a domain cost?

If you think you are paying too much for your domain .AU Australian Domain Registration Ltd (AUDA) lists approved domain registrars as a great place to start pricing & service comparisons. Don’t forget to factor-in any transfer costs your current registrar may levee too! caveat emptor (buyer be ware)

Be aware also that dot com domains are not managed by AUDA and there’s much less rigour behind domain ownership and renewal so even more caution is required if you are using a dot com domain for your busines website.

Expired domains and Google SEO

Google quickly removes expired domains from its search results and consequently sales leads cease and in this case it took 21 days to restore the previously dominant ranking position. That’s 21 days with their ‘virtual showroom’ closed!
Just imagine what it costs the business in lost sales leads…

Risk management for domain renewals

Having ‘control’ over your business domains is a no-brainer. You wouldn’t risk loosing other elements in your branding so don’t take risks with your domain.
Ensure that the domain contact email for renewals goes to a valid email address checked by someone in the business who is acutely aware of the importance of this notice if they receive it. This notice is usually (but not always) viewable through a ‘whois’ – an internet enquiry to check the details of your domain.

Try this whois to see who the contacts are for your domain: https://dig.whois.com.au/whois/

If present, the renewals will be sent to the billing contact.